Neurodermatitis is a chronic skin condition characterized by an itchy patch with scaling that is worsened by repeated scratching. It is also known as lichen simplex chronicus. The itch-scratch pattern leads to thickening and leathery appearance of the skin. The disease is not life-threatening or contagious, but the intense itching and relapse are related to sleep and sexual function disturbances along with the reduced quality of life. Neurodermatitis is more common in females than in males and it mostly affects people in the age group of 30-50 years.(1)

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How Long Will It Take To Recover From Neurodermatitis?

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How Long Will It Take To Recover From Neurodermatitis?

The lesions of neurodermatitis may completely heal or they may show mild scarring and hyperpigmentation after successful treatment. However, whether the symptoms continue or recovery is underway depends on the control of the patient to avoid/stop scratching the affected area. The symptoms will continue if the patient continues to scratch the area, despite all topical medications. There is a relapse in times of psychic stress, hot and humid conditions, and exposure to skin irritants or allergens. Since neurodermatitis is a chronic condition and it is very difficult to break the habit of a person to scratch, there is lifelong relapse and remittance with reduced quality of life.(2)

How Long Do The Symptoms Of Neurodermatitis Last?

The most common complaint of a person with neurodermatitis is a pruritic plaque on one or more areas and redness can be noted in early lesions. The thickening of skin can be noted in areas where the patient can easily reach. These include scalp, neck, elbows, extensor forearms, upper medial thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, vulva, and scrotum. The itching is worse when the patient is sitting quiet and still and it is non-existent when the patient is active. The nature of is itching is usually intermittent and temporary relief from pruritus is provided after scratching the area.(2)

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Neurodermatitis has a patch that is erythematous, scaly, well-demarcated, lichenified, firm, and rough with exaggerated skin markings. Skin changes, such as hyperpigmentation may be noted. The key factor in the initiation of the lesion is rubbing and scratching that might lead to scratch marks, erosions, and ulcerations from deeper scratching.(2)

The patients with neurodermatitis have a higher incidence of diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, hypertension, chronic obstructive lung disease, peripheral vascular disease, and chronic kidney disease. These patients also have increased vulnerability for erectile dysfunction.(2)

The cause of neurodermatitis is yet unknown. However, neurodermatitis is strongly related to chronic skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and dry skin. Anxiety, depression and other psychiatric conditions are strongly related to neurodermatitis and are a trigger for the pruritus. Other factors that might trigger neurodermatitis are an insect bite and tight clothing, which irritate the skin and trigger an itch response.(1)

Treatment Of Neurodermatitis

The key to the healing of the lesion is avoiding and refraining from scratching and rubbing the affected area. The cutting of fingernails and applying ice or anti-patch preparation can be helpful in preventing scratching. Patch testing and looking for particular allergens that can be avoided also help to manage the condition. A simple moisturizer can be helpful in calming the protecting the damaged skin along with deterring from rubbing or scratching. Occlusion or covering the area with socks, gloves, and gauze wraps can be found helpful for healing and deterring from the itch-scratch cycle. Unna boots (gauze with zinc oxide paste) are also found to be very effective for neurodermatitis.(3)

Topical steroids are very helpful in calming the inflammation and pruritus. The potency of the steroids depends on the thickness of the skin in lichen simplex chronicus as thicker skin may require more potent topical steroid. A non-steroid topical medication is found helpful in cases where a steroid is not suitable or the lesion is refractory to it. Examples of non-steroid medications are tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel). In severe cases, the intralesional injection of steroid may be found helpful.(3)

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: July 22, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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